Family fishing

Winter School Holidays in The Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges

Family Winter

When the winter school holidays come around it can sometimes be particularly tricky to find activities to get your kids out of the house and active, but the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges have plenty to offer.

Visiting our What's On page is the best way to find special events happening during your visit, but if you're keen on activities that run year-round, why not try these over the upcoming winter break?

Explore Healesville Sanctuary

It doesn't matter what time of year you visit, there's always something for kids to explore at Healesville Sanctuary.

Over school holidays, in particular, there are always special programs encouraging connection with the wildlife, land and culture. Families can hear fascinating and educational stories from
Murrundindi, a Wurundjeri Elder, as he shares cultural stories, plays the didgeridoo and more every day during the School Holidays except for Saturdays.

There are talks and presentations throughout the day including two new presentations: ‘What’s up The Creek’ and ‘Let’s Talk Frogs’. Kids can also keep active and warm up jumping and playing in the Bunjil and Corrobboree Frog Nature Play spaces. Discover Australia's majestic birds in the spectacular and newly refreshed presentation of Spirits of the Sky, twice daily, the list goes on!

Click here to find out more regarding presentation times and special events taking place specifically for the school holiday period.

Get Artsy

Got a crafty kid or teen with a flair for art?

Why not take a day and explore TarraWarra Museum of Art? Their rotating exhibitions mean there's always something new to explore. Additionally, the grounds include fantastic sculptures and installations worth the wander.

Younger children will love Gallery Kids at Heide, a creative and educational art observation
session for pre-schoolers aged 18 months to three years and their carers. The sessions are designed for small children to gain confidence observing artworks in a small group.
Activities involve looking, listening and learning ways to explore the sculpture park and gallery space together, paired with songs, puppets and more.

For much younger (pre-walking) babies, Heide Art Babies is a fabulous way to connect with creativity and sensory play with your baby. Join art therapist Tanis Douglas for a gentle session of exploration and learning in the Heide sculpture park, and purposeful, directed activity in the
gallery where baby can engage in sensory play on the Moonboy baby rug with stories, puppets and songs.

Kids Love U-Pick

Climb aboard a tractor at Rayner's Orchard for a day of fruit tasting. It's not only a fun day out, it's educational, teaching children about farming, agriculture and healthy, organic eating.

Rayner's Orchard grows more than 450 varieties of fruit all year round, so anytime is a great time to visit. Tours allow families to sample seasonal fruit picked straight from the tree, and you can pick your own fruit to take home. Every tour has at least 7-8 varieties of fruit on offer to taste.

P.S. If you're looking for a unique kid's birthday party idea, a day at the fruit farm is always a hit.

Family Fishing

Fishing is a great day out for the whole family and over the winter holiday period, you can visit Tommy Finn’s Trout Farm in Warburton or the Australian Rainbow Trout Farm in Macclesfield where you’ll find safe fishing ponds for all ages. Children love seeing the fish jump and it makes for a relaxing family outing with the added excitement of catching dinner.

No need to bring a thing as rods and bait are provided and ponds are well-stocked with rainbow trout. Once the fish is caught, it’s cleaned and bagged to take home.

Tommy Finns Trout Farm is open on weekends only, from 10 am to 5 pm and The Australian Rainbow Trout Farm is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm.

Be Junior Chocolatiers and Pastry Chefs

The school holiday season is a whole lot sweeter when kids can learn to become a Junior Chocolatier in just 45 minutes at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie. The Junior Chocolatier Classes and Junior Pastry Chef classes are regularly held in a private ‘parent-free zone’, especially for children aged 6 – 14 years.

They’ll learn how chocolate is made and how to make their very own yummy chocolate and pastry creations. $40 includes a personalised badge, chef’s hat and apron, graduation certificate plus take-home creations to enjoy. Session times take place during the school holiday period and bookings are essential.

Visit their classes page to make your booking.

Meet the Animals at Edendale Farm

Open daily from 9.30 to 4.30, Edendale Farm is a wonderful place to experience life on the farm. Visit a variety of farm and native animals and feed the chooks too.

Children and parents alike can browse the interesting displays on animal life and the natural habitat while also getting a peek at exhibits such as live stick insects to learn about their life cycle, hopping mice, turtles and other water creatures too.

Animals on site include goats, sheep, alpacas, cows, spiny leaf stick insects, guinea pigs, spinifex hopping mice, blue tongue lizards and various breeds of poultry. Visitors can enter the main chicken closure for feedings and every Wednesday there’s guinea pig patting at 10 am. The onsite cafe is also a great spot for coffee and light meals while parents love the Indigenous Nursery stocked with plants available for purchase.

Click here for more.

Take a Trip With Puffing Billy

Puffing Billy is open over the school holidays with a variety of activities for kids of all ages. Enjoy an excursion, visit the train museum or grab lunch on board.

Step back in time at Australia’s oldest and best-preserved heritage steam railway, Puffing Billy, situated in the picturesque Dandenong Ranges.

Pass lush fern gullies inside an open side carriage under the Mountain Ash trees overhead.

Visitors can enjoy travelling onboard Puffing Billy as a stand-alone experience with the excitement beginning at Belgrave Station, or start the adventure from Lakeside Station, riding over the rolling hills, across iconic timber trestle bridges and through the open farmlands that surround Gembrook Station. With a range of delicious picnic and lunch packs available, pre-order your meals and spend the rest of your time making memories to treasure forever.

Hit the Markets

The fabulous markets that take place in our region don't stop over the winter months.

Grab a few shopping bags and venture out to a number of our regular markets to bring home loads of great loot.

From farm-fresh produce to arts and crafts and so much more, there are several markets to explore in our region like The Valley Market ECOSS (pictured above) which takes place every Friday 3:30 pm-6:00 pm at Yarra Valley ECOSSS in Wesburn.

Click here to see what markets are on, when and where.